How to Talk to An Atheist.............

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Bonnie, Feb 3, 2005.

  1. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Senior Member

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    When I pulled into the parking lot this morning, I saw a car covered with sacrilegious bumper stickers. It seemed obvious to tme that the owner ws craving attention. I'm sure he was also seeking to elicit anger from people of faith. The anger helps the atheist justify his atheism. And, all too often, the atheist gets exactly what he is looking for.

    In fact just the other day, I heard a Christian refer to Michael Newdow as an "attention-craving SOB." It reminded me of the time I heard someone refer to Annie Laurie Gaylor as a "b--ch." I don't have the same reaction towards atheists, even when I see them attacking my basic religious freedoms. when I look into their eyes I see an emptiness that evokes pity. Maybe that's because I was once one of them.

    I still remember the night I publicly declared my atheism. It was April 3rd, 1992. I was a long-haired musician, playing guitar at a bar called "The Gin" in Oxford Mississippi. The subject came up in a conversation during one of my breaks. An Ole Miss Law student, who had been an undergraduate with me at Mississippi State years before, asked me whether I was still dating my girlfriend Sally. Then he asked why I had broken up with my girlfriend two years before.

    After I explained that my former girlfriend was too much of a fundamentalist while I was an atheist, his jaw nearly hit the ground. "Are you really an atheist?" he asked. He assured me he didn't mean to pry and that he was merely concerned. He didn't have to tell me that. His reaction gave him away. it was a reaction he could not have possibly faked.

    That law student, whose name I have forgotten, made no effort to convert me on the spot. But he did plead with me to pick a up a copy of Mere Christianity. "I've heard it all before," I said. He told me I was wrong. He said that C.S. Lewis was the best apologist of the 20th century, but he didn't push the matter. The conversation ended abruptly. I never saw him again.

    Years later, I read Mere Christianity and it did have a great effect upon me. but, recently, I was thinking about what really drove me to read the book. How could I have remembered the title of a book I heard only once? After all, it was many years before at the end of a long night of drinking in a bar in Mississippi.

    The answer is simple. The advice was given to me by someone who sincerely considered the matter to be urgent. And that sense of urgency was conveyed without a trace of anger. It was just a matter of one human being communicating his concern for another without being pushy and holier-than-thou.

    If a Christian really believes the things he professes to beleive, he wil go to great lengths to share it woth others. He would even crawl on his belly across a desert of broken glass if he thought he could reach an atheist.

    When my relationship with my atheist girlfriend ended on April 4th, 1992, I thought it was the end of the world. I didn't know I had just taken my first step on the road to freedom. I certainly didn't believe in divine intervention. But I do now.

    I don't think about those days as often as I should. But the next time I see Michael Newdow on TV, I will try to remember. and when I feel sadness, I will try to keep the faith that there is always hope.

    Between faith and hope and something, the greatest of these things is something. As long as there are atheists among us, we cannot forget that greatest thing......

    Mike S Adams
    www.townhall.com/columnists/mikeadams/printma20050124.shtml
     
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  2. no1tovote4
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    no1tovote4 VIP Member

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    :clap::clap::clap:

    This guy writes what I have been trying to say but haven't yet found the words to say.

    How you act towards the people who oppose you is the biggest factor in converting them.
     
  3. Thornton
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    Thornton Member

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    Then you have people like me who were raised in a Christian home, went to Christian school until 10th grade and decided that the whole Christian scene didn't make a lot of sense in the big picture. For the last nine years I have studied and practiced Spiritualism. That's my *something*. It makes more sense to me, has taught me a lot about myself without guilt tripping me or threatening me into submission, and of my own free will I've grown as a person and a man. Absolute truth about yourself is a hard thing to face and change and practice. Most people who claim to be Christians who I know and have met on line are a disgrace to the man Jesus, and flaunt their religion like they're something special and the rest of us are doomed. I'm not a atheist but I don't believe like a lot of people, and that doesn't mean I need to be rescued.
     
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  4. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    With a history similar to yours, I also identify myself as one who practices "spiritualism" which has interstingly enough given me a new understanding a biblical concepts. I think all who practice a spiritual discipline are in various stages of growth and thought and while these stages may appear contrary to the many messages of spirituality, I am grateful that America still has those even interested in pursuing ANY kind if spirituality.
    Without spiritual study and exchange, America would certainly crumble from the effects of selfishness and Hedonism.
     
  5. Gem
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    Gem BANNED

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    Thornton,

    While I have nothing but respect for your own discoveries that you are more spiritual than religious, I can't help but wonder how much the Christians you interacted with colored yoru view of the religion.

    It seems that most of the people I have met, talked with who have turned away from Christianity in search of something else have been turned off more by the people who, as you referenced, "are a disgrace to Jesus." I knew one person who spoke openly and passionately about how Christianity was a crock and people who believed hopelessly naive...later on he wrote about coming from a very strictly religious and abusive family.

    Of course it isn't surprising that a man who was abused by parents claiming to be Christian is going to have problems with that religion...just as it isn't surprising that a person who has had bad experiences with bad Christians looks elsewhere for their spirituality. But I would say that while whatever works for you is the answer (if it happens to be spiritualism, thats great)...blaming the religion on a whole, rather than the people who are misusing it, is a mistake.

    Every religion, every organization, every nation, every town, (every belief system...even every NON-belief system) contains a few people who are not representing the true nature of what makes up that system.

    People say they turn away from Catholicism because of the pedophilia scandal...not taking into consideration how small the percentage of priests were who were involved in that scandal (less than 1%!). If the religion is something you believe in...then isn't it worth fighting for if just 1% of it is corrupt? More likely than not, the people who left the religion for that reason were either 1) harmed someway by the 1% or 2) looking for a reason to look else where.

    I'm not trying to sway you to return to Christianity...I firmly believe that it is how you live your life that matters to God, not what church you talk to him in...but I would caution you to think about how you view Christianity and Christians in general...your past experiences with Christians who didn't act very Christianly is not the only type of person out there.
     
  6. Thornton
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    Thornton Member

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    Gem, don't assume stuff. My parents were not abusive in any way. They are Baptist and have a strong marriage and 4 kids that all grew up to be professional people. We're a close family.

    I left because the whole belief system didn't work for me. It was illogical with pat answers to even thinking for yourself. Spiritualism puts full responsibility on the person and no one has to die for you because you fuck up. You make mistakes, you correct them, and from your inner truth, you grow spiritually. As you grow in absolute truth, you come to understand that what you send out is what you get back, now or later. That system of belief works for me and I know who I am and why I feel like I do without being guilt tripped or having the fear of hell make me act like I'm different. I have changed and grown because of what I did. Christains fail to follow their leader because the road is too steep and the stakes too high. You can call salvation free will if you want, but when the only alternative is eternal hell (supposedly) that's not much of a choice, now is it?
     
  7. Gem
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    Gem BANNED

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    Sigh. Thornton...you might want to follow your own advice. Don't make assumptions.

    I never stated that you were abused...I never even implied it. I stated that many people who I have read on message boards who make a point of discussing why they turned away from Christianity did so because they had bad experiences with poor examples of Christians.

    You were the one who stated: Most people who claim to be Christians who I know and have met on line are a disgrace to the man Jesus. All I did was state that this opinion, that Christianity does not work for you anymore because of negative interactions with Christians...was one I had seen before.

    Your belief system works for you...and as I said before, and repeat now since you obviously missed it the first time. I'm glad that you have found something that makes you happy...I was not writing to attempt to bring you back to Christianity...I do not follow any religion strongly enough to urge someone back to a religion...I was only stating that if you had a negative impression of Christianity because of Christians you know who you had issues with...that you should not write off the religion or people who follow that religion entirely...because there are very good Christians out there as well.

    Be careful with being so quick to jump down someones throat, Thornton...
     
  8. Bullypulpit
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    Bullypulpit Senior Member

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    It is important to differentiate between religion and spirituality. Religions are systems of beliefs that grew up around ideas of how the world works, Unfortunately, once they are set in place, beliefs become rigid, inflexible and unchanging, there's no room for new ideas. People will kill, and die, for them.

    Spirituality is something that springs from within, and is open to the exploration of new ideas about how the world around us works without falling into the trap of belief.
     
  9. KarlMarx
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    KarlMarx Senior Member

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    That sounds like a good description of liberalism and the Democratic Party to me.

    Are religions supposed to be alla-carte institutions where you can believe what you want? If that were so, then there would be little to differentiate Roman Catholics from say Unitarians.

    I can see it now.... "oh I believe in the 7 commandments", or "I believe in God, but she's a lesbian".

    Or you go to a Sunday service (this week, next week it will be held at a day and time that the congregation finds most convenient) where they sing folk songs, burn incense to Buddha, preach some Indian Spriritualism and have announcements for their bingo game and potluck supper.... at all of this taking place at Our Lady of Sorrows Church.

    Does this make sense to you? Not to me.

    My observation is that people who don't believe in some part of a faith often do so because if they DID believe in it, it would require them to change. Or that they change their beliefs to fit with what they are doing now (I can't help but think about how many gays believe in the misinterpretation of the "thou shalt not judge" part of the Sermon of the Mount. Ya think it has something to do with their sexual orientation?). Someone might say "I don't believe that adultery is immoral", to which I say, "Really? One day you sat down, did a logic analysis of the pros and cons of adultery, debated it with a group of scholars and came to the conclusion that adultery was moral? Or is it more likely that you are having an affair with a married person and changed your stance on adultery to fit what you're doing?".... more likely the latter.

    Or, it's probably more likely that some people don't really believe in anything because after all, beliefs get in the way of a good time?

    OK, if that's the case, I'm starting a religion where you can eat whatever you want and not get higher cholesterol (I don't believe in cholesterol, it's against my religion). I am going to start a church called "Our Lady of the All You Can Eat Buffet". Yep, ham and eggs for breakfast, hamburger and fries for lunch, steak for dinner (And don't forget the extra sour cream!).

    Or, I can do what the gays do, blame high cholesterol and heart disease on the Bush tax cuts, phobia against overweight people or that it is a result of a CIA bio-weapon gone wrong.
     
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  10. Shattered
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    Get rid of those fries, and add some green veggies, and salads to that list, and you can eat like that on a daily basis, while *lowering* your cholesterol. :)

    (And Gem - You did imply that Thornton may have been abused as a child by stating that the one person you know who used to.....(insert rest of phrase)...

    That's exactly how I read it as well, and I am by no means "slow", nor do I need to "read it again, since I obviously didn't get it the first time"... That was a very condescending, and rude statement on your part. (No, I'm not a Liberal either, so don't even make the comparison). :)
     

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